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What's at the heart of climate smart agriculture?

Queen (36) waters her vegetable garden in Zambia. Photo: Gareth Bentley.
Queen (36) waters her vegetable garden in Zambia. Photo: Gareth Bentley.
News12 August 2014Caoimhe Gaskin

Concern Worldwide’s CEO, Dominic MacSorley, explores the recent innovations within climate smart agriculture in the second part of this two-part blog post

Sustainable farming

In Zambia, conservation agriculture is enabling farmers like Bwime Kabimbi to more than double their yields in comparison to conventional approaches.  

Before the introduction of conservation agriculture, Bwime didn’t have enough food to see her family through the year.

Now, she says: “my crop production has increased three-fold. I now have my own garden full of a variety of different vegetables.”

Concern's agricultural programmes are having many real, tangible benefits across the countries where we work. 

These include: 

  • Malawian female farmers reduced their workload by an incredible 34 days per year by adopting conservation agriculture 
  • Working with Somali agronomists, we applied vital seed research techniques to drought-resistant filsan mung beans on a wide scale
  • Rainwater harvesting has been implemented in Rwanda and Burundi to help crops thrive

We have reached 100,000 poor farm households with these new climate-smart approaches in some of the most vulnerable parts of Africa. Over the next two years, we intend on trebling this to 300,000 and then doubling that again to 600,000 by 2021. 

This is ambitious but we are not alone.  We are one of the founding members of the “Alliance for Scaling-Up Climate-Smart Agriculture across Africa”.

This groundbreaking new partnership brings together the African Union-NEPAD with five international charities and will reach six million small farmers over the next seven years.

Speaking at the Alliance launch in July, both former president of Ghana and UN special envoy on climate change, John Kufor, said the initiative will make a very significant contribution to Africa’s vision of having 25 million farming households practising climate-smart agriculture.  

Climate change

Last month, the former Irish president, Mary Robinson, was appointed as the new UN special envoy for climate change. In this role she will help mobilise political will and action ahead of the climate summit in September. 


Mary Robinson with healthworker Nadhifa Ibrahim Mohamed. She has worked in Dollow Health Centre  for 3 years and is a certified midwife, Dollow, Somalia. The Somali district of Dollow is situated on the Somali / Ethiopian border.  Dollow town, the district capital, is the border crossing point and is contiguous with Dollow Ado on the Ethiopian side. Dollow is a key transit point between Somalia and Ethiopia in the current crisis with over 1,700  crossing between the two countries on a daily basis. To date 7
Mary Robinson with Nadhifa Ibrahim Mohamed in Ethiopia. Photo: Jennifer Nolan / Concern Worldwide.

Climate change is now very much on the international political agenda.

It is vital that the international community provide the critically needed funds to support the pioneering work of Concern and Alliance partners as we work towards empowering millions of smallholder farmers to feed themselves, their communities and the world. 

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